The blackfish, also known as tautog, (Tautoga onitis) ranges from Nova Scotia to South Carolina. It lives along the coast in rocky areas and may be found near pilings, jetties and wrecks. It is commonly taken at fishing reefs in the Atlantic Ocean just south of Long Island. Tautogs can grow to 3 feet or about 22 pounds, but most fish are between 2 and 8 pounds. Blackfish feed mostly on mussels, clams and crabs and only feed during the day. The greenish coloration in the fins is caused by this fish’s diet, primarily blue mussels. And yes, they are a delicious food fish! We fish for blackfish with crabs anchored over ocean and bay wrecks. Blackfish like to get inside wrecks or between rocks and at night they sleep with their heads down and their tails up.
Blackfish separate the good fishermen from the beginners. They are a tricky fish to catch. A blackfish first grabs a crab with its’ front teeth. You will feel a light tap on your line and if you lift up then you will pull the hook out of his mouth. Next the fish bites down to crack the shell. You feel a tug on the line. Don’t swing now, but wait for the second or third tug when he is chewing and swallowing the crab. Now lift up hard on the rod pulling him out from between the rocks or wreckage. Then keep the rod up until you have reeled in at least 10 feet of line to prevent the tog from getting into the wreckage.